Ex-CIA Rome chief gets jail term in "rendition" trial

Fri Feb 1, 2013 2:55pm EST
 
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MILAN (Reuters) - A former CIA station chief received a seven-year jail sentence on Friday for the kidnap of an Egyptian Muslim cleric during the U.S. government's "war on terror" waged by former president George W. Bush.

A Milan appeals court also handed down two six-year sentences to two American officials for the same crime, the first of so-called "extraordinary rendition" operations organized by the United States.

The cleric, an Egyptian imam known as Abu Omar, was snatched from a Milan street and flown to Egypt for interrogation, where he says he was tortured for seven months. He was resident in Italy at the time of the abduction.

Former Rome CIA station chief Jeffrey Castelli and the two other defendants were tried in their absence and are unlikely to serve their sentences, but they will be unable to travel to Europe without risking arrest.

The CIA declined a request for comment.

Castelli was among 26 U.S. nationals indicted by Italian authorities for their involvement in the 2003 kidnap. The judgment overturned a previous ruling by a lower court, which acquitted the three on grounds of diplomatic immunity.

Last September Italy's highest court upheld guilty verdicts on 22 CIA agents and one Air Force pilot for the kidnapping.

In that case, all of the Americans were sentenced to seven years' jail except former CIA Milan station chief Robert Seldon Lady, who was handed a nine-year sentence.

The new ruling may boost attempts to shed light on heavy-handed CIA tactics during the administration of President Bush and was welcomed by human rights group Amnesty International.   Continued...